HC Deb 06 June 1995 vol 261 cc3-4
3. Mr. Miller

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what discussions he has had with local authorities in the last year about changes to the size of the defence industry. [25094]

The Minister of State for Defence Procurement (Mr. Roger Freeman)

We seek to involve local authorities in early notification of any change to defence requirements for land and buildings and seek their help in finding alternative use when no longer required.

Mr. Miller

Does the Minister agree that local authorities are the key to planning economic activities at some disused military bases? Will he address his mind to the possibility of linking local authorities with plans to utilise currently vacant Ministry of Defence houses and other accommodation to help provide that accommodation for communal civic use? Do not some of the examples from the United States provide models for the MOD to follow?

Mr. Freeman

I am not sure about the experiences in the United States, which have been mixed. I agree with the hon. Gentleman that the Ministry of Defence should seek to co-operate with local authorities, trade unions and other Government Departments through the regional offices to make sure that there is prompt action to find alternative uses for land and buildings which are no longer needed. We need to reduce the stock of empty married quarters, and we will work with local authorities to achieve that.

Mr. Hicks

Is my right hon. Friend aware that there is eager anticipation within the Plymouth travel-to-work area that an early decision will be made about the release of land currently occupied by the Royal Naval college at Manadon, and that the beneficiary will be the University of Plymouth?

Mr. Freeman

I cannot confirm who the beneficiary will be, but I agree with my hon. Friend that further or higher education use for the site would make a great deal of sense and would be welcomed in Plymouth.

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